[MARMAM] New publication: Group feeding recorded in leopard seals
jamesrichardrobbins at googlemail.com
Thu Aug 8 06:11:04 PDT 2019
On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce that the following
article has been published in *Polar Biology*:
Robbins JR, Poncet D, Evans AR, Hocking, DP. (2019). A rare observation of
group prey processing in wild leopard seals (*Hydrurga leptonyx*).
Cooperative feeding is often observed among predators with strong social
bonds; however, it is unexpected in solitary predators. During 2016,
several mass predation events were witnessed in St Andrews Bay and Right
Whale Bay, South Georgia, where up to 36 leopard seals (*Hydrurga leptonyx*)
were seen feeding together at king penguin (*Aptenodytes patagonicus*)
colonies. Three post-mortem prey-processing events were observed where two
leopard seals actively fed on the same carcass in an unusual display of
tolerance for a species where anti-social behaviour is the norm. The seals
were observed repeatedly tearing adult king penguins between themselves,
while floating alongside each other at the surface of the water. This is
the first record of co-feeding in this difficult-to-study species; however,
it is expected that the behaviour is rare within the population. We propose
that the high density of predators combined with the readily available
prey, makes it costlier to defend a kill than it is to tolerate
kleptoparasitism. It is unclear whether this behaviour shows cooperative
feeding, which would likely enable more efficient prey processing: by
holding the prey in their jaws, each seal provides an anchor on the prey
that others can pull against to stretch and tear it.
The article can be accessed with the following link, but feel free to
contact me (jamesrichardrobbins at googlemail.com) for a PDF.
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